Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Mack and Mabel’ the Surprise Victor at Carbonell Awards

No one could argue that the 35th annual Carbonell Awards, which were announced Monday night at a ceremony at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, didn’t have their share of surprises.

And there was no greater shocker than the evening’s final award. Hardly anyone could have foreseen that “Mack and Mabel,” the Broward Stage Door Theatre’s well-crafted mounting of Jerry Herman’s durable musical about Hollywood’s early days, would upset powerhouses like Actor’s Playhouse’s “Miss Saigon” (which scored more nominations than any other show and which took home Best Director of a Musical) and Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s “Anything Goes” (which won two awards, including Best Actress in a Musical). The climactic victory for “Mack and Mabel” was the only award of the evening for the Broward Stage Door, and what a whopper it was. Full disclosure: I was one of the seven judges who voted on these shows, and even I was shocked.

The “Mack and Mabel” upset is especially sweet because the Stage Door is a theater that is usually ignored. Most of their shows are not even recommended by the panel of Carbonell nominators, rendering them ineligible for awards consideration. Technically and stylistically, the theater can’t really compete with the

lavish budgets and production values of Actor’s Playhouse or Maltz Jupiter, but ultimately, that shouldn’t matter, and in this case, it didn’t. The underdog became top dog.

The big winner in the nonmusical theatre world was “Blasted,” GableStage’s harrowing excursion into shock theater. It won the major technical awards — as it should have — for lighting, set design and sound design, and it also picked up Best Director of a Play and Best Production of a Play. “Blasted” is a controversial work, depicting war, sodomy and infant cannibalism, and its victory Monday night is proof that such tough sells have a future on South Florida stages. In his acceptance speech, director Joe Adler proudly stated that the play had no walk-outs, before slyly adding that, of course, it also contained no intermission, making walk-out opportunities difficult.

Elsewhere, Deborah L. Sherman and Lisa Manuli both offered heartwarming, humble acceptance speeches after their victories for Best Supporting Actress in a Play and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (For Florida Stage’s “Goldie, Max and Milk” and G4 Productions’ “Motherhood: The Musical,” respectively). But no acceptance speech drew as many laughs or gasps as Gregg Weiner’s, scoring Best Actor in a Play for his role as a husband in a disintegrating marriage in GableStage’s superb “Fifty Words.” Admittedly tipsy (at very least), Weiner’s profanity-laced speech – which borderlined, hilariously, on contempt for the awards themselves – ended by quoting a former instructor, who said that good actors “act from their balls.” In an evening that included more than a few references to male genitalia (Todd Allen Durkin’s penis, exposed during “Blasted,” received as many notices as the play itself), Weiner’s flippant acceptance speech proved to be the most substantive and, despite its screw-it-all nonchalance, the most resonant of the evening.

Related Articles

Latest Articles